NASA Scientist
Adopts Embryos

A NASA research scientist became a mom 9 months ago, but she got pregnant in an unusual way. She adopted 19-year-old embryos, and her son is the second-oldest live birth from cryopreserved human embryos.

Cute baby boy

Kelly Burke, 45, desperately wanted to become a mom, but her options for fertility treatments were running out. That’s when she went through a rigorous adoption process -- not for a child who was already born, but for embryos that were frozen 19 years ago. Nine months ago she happily gave birth to a healthy son.

Near record-setting birth

Kelly is a NASA research scientist and had spent years undergoing fertility treatments that were exhausting and draining. She eventually gave up the idea of using her own eggs. After looking into other options, she discovered an Oregon couple looking to donate four cryopreserved (frozen) embryos.

These embryos were the result of an egg donation 19 years ago that were used for an IVF attempt by a couple from Oregon struggling with infertility of their own. Happily, they conceived and delivered fraternal twin girls, and froze the remaining embryos.

Late last year, they were put into contact with Kelly, and an adoption process was completed, much like what parents of adopted children go through. “I think the couple knows more about me than some of my family,” she said. She was flown to the Reproductive Science Center in the San Francisco Bay area for implantation. All four embryos were thawed and allowed to develop into 5-day blastocysts, and they implanted two into Kelly’s womb and re-froze the other two for future children if she desires.

One embryo developed, and her son Liam James was born healthy. Kelly’s doctors said that this was the second-oldest live birth that resulted from frozen embryos. Liam’s biological siblings will be old enough to vote by the time he reaches his first birthday, and as they opted for an open adoption, they will be able to meet in the future.

More on IVF and infertility

Pregnancy may be more likely after IVF
Infertility rates in the U.S. are falling
3 Surgeries that can save your fertility


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